Friday, May 21, 2010

A Cast of Thousands

Someone asked me yesterday at the Department of Motor Vehicles, of all places, where do you come up with the characters for your books? Here, I replied.  And everywhere.

I've based characters I've met at my local gym (that's a goldmine!), neighbors, friends, celebrities, even family members.  Sometimes a character can have traits--both physical and emotional--in several people that I know.  And sometimes a character might come straight from my imagination, like Aiyana in my latest novel, CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  The same goes for her love interest, Honovi, although physically I saw Adam Beach in my head as Honovi's character began to take shape on my page.  Adam Beach was in one of my fav indie films called SMOKE SIGNALS (1998), and the screenplay was written by Sherman Alexie, one of my fav writers.  I think Beach is a tremendous actor, not to mention incredibly handsome.  And majorly hot!

As writers, where do you come up with your characters?  And, readers, do you like it when an author fully describes and fleshes out a character for you in a story or do you prefer that the author leave some of the details to your imagination?

8 comments:

Sandi said...

Great question! As a reader, I hate it when an author rattles off all of a character's vitals on the first page, before I even know what's going on!

Bonnie Dee said...

Adam Beach, mmmm. Although most recently when I've seen him he's a bit pudgy, but that's okay. I saw Smoke Signals but it's been a long time. Will have to check it out again.

Sometimes my characters and even plot are based on something seen in a movie. My book The Thief and the Desert Flower was inspired by the desert scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. So sexy. And my upcoming Carina release Jungle Heat is a retelling of the Tarzan story, influenced to an extent by that 80's chestnut Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan.

As a reader, I don't need much description, I'm going to picture the characters as I wish anyway.

Pauline B Jones said...

I think I see characters my own way, too. When the Twilight movie released, I thought his family didn't look like what I was seeing. Went home and checked and had to laugh at myself. The actors did fit the descriptions, but I saw them my own way.

Kemberlee said...

It's people watching for me. Everywhere. Especially the mall...and anywhere people gather in large numbers...airport, events, festivals/fairs, etc

I take characteristics from several people to build my characters. Even people from films are fair game. If an actor portrays a character with a certain trait, I'll put it in my file and maybe use it eventually.

Ron in Anthem said...

If the writing is visual enough, I can "see" the character without much description.

Rebecca E. Grant said...

Most of the time my characters come to me in those soft moments just before I fall asleep. I believe strongly in animal totem spirituality. For example, one night a grizzly bear walked into my consciousness just before sleep (so I guess it was really semi-consciousness) and gave me one of my heros--a character who needs a lot of space, has a strong heart, unwavering will and is a natural leader.

When I read, I'm easily bored with very much description--even if it's so lovely it reads like poetry.

Liz Fichera said...

Sandi, I tend to agree with you on that one.

Bonnie, pudgy? Really?? I refuse to believe it. ;-) Adam is still a hunk in my mind.

Pauline, Agreed! The Cullens looked so plastic in the movie. I prefered the books, and the images I had in my own mind.

Kemberlee, keeping a journal is such a good idea! And people-watching is huge for me too.

Ron, hey there! You're up early?? I agree with you: Visual writing (good writing) is always so key.

Liz Fichera said...

Rebecca, that's a very Native American trait! Very cool! And like you, too much description is not my cup of tea. Less is more. But it's finding that right balance that is so key, and yet can be so powerful.